Statement from Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee
In Regards to Free Speech Hearing
In an attempt to chill free speech by requiring groups such as Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) to disclose their donors’ list, a few Texas lawmakers are using the same underhanded IRS tactics we have seen at the national level, while at the same time excluding union activity from these restrictions. This is a clear attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision upholding freedom of speech by making it easier for the political elite to target its critics. They have seen how well this strategy works and have mounted a nationwide campaign with Texas, as always, as a big target. Our Founders knew that these types of tactics would be used, and they tried to prevent this from happening by passing the First Amendment. CWALAC stands with our friends in other statewide 501(c) (4) groups in strongly opposing this type of legislation.
On Thursday, May 1, at 10:00 a.m., the House State Affairs Committee chaired by Rep. Byron Cook (R-District 8) held a hearing on this issue. The committee heard only “invited testimony” and did not invite any of the conservative groups who would be affected by a revision SB 346, a bill from the 2013 legislative session, which was vetoed by the governor. SB 346 was authored by Rep. Charlie Geren (R-District 99) and Sen. Kel Seliger (R-District 31) and was opposed by a majority of Republican lawmakers.
Since 2012 a scandal involving the IRS has been under investigation by the U.S. Congress regarding reported efforts by different federal agencies to “shut down” conservative 501(c) (4) organizations. That investigation continues, especially in the face of proposed IRS rules that would prohibit these groups from participating in political speech. This legislation would only make it easier to target groups for their support of candidates and causes opposed to the political establishment.
The Texas Home School Coalition (THSC) has recently announced that their 501(c) (4) organization was joining with Texas Right to Life (TRTL) in intervening in a federal lawsuit with Empower Texans (also a 501(c) (4)) against the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). They intervened because the TEC is attempting to do by rule in Texas what the IRS has been attempting to do in Washington, D.C.: intimidate 501(c) (4) groups to keep them from participating in political speech. CWALAC is honored to stand in support of these groups and for the protection of our supporters.
The TEC has issued subpoenas asking for information on all donors of Empower Texans 501(c) (4) group, in addition to e-mails, communications, etc., for a period of up to the last two years. In fact, the TEC has said that 501(c) (4) groups should be treated like political action committees (PACs). Of course, these advocacy groups are not PACs.
However, it has become clear that the TEC-lead movement has been launched seeking to use the same kind of tactics used by the IRS to intimidate non-profit advocacy groups who participate in political speech. In fact, the TEC is now attempting to adopt rules that would treat these groups the same as PACs so that their donors would be exposed to political pressure. CWALAC will follow these hearing and the lawsuit very closely.
ACTION ITEM: Please pray for these leaders to be men and women of integrity and that these intimidation tactics to silence conservative groups will be defeated. Please contact your State Representative and Senator and tell them you strongly oppose any effort that would silence conservative leaders. Pray for the elections and for leaders who would lead Texas with the highest standards of integrity. God Bless.
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